Monday, 7 September 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: Three's the Charm

After two previous expeditions to the Indonesian island of Sumatra on the track of the upright walking ape know as orang-pendek (short man) the CFZ will be returning for a third expedition beginning on September 13th.

Adam Davies, Dr Chris Clark, Dave Archer and myself will be spending two weeks in the jungle in search of the orang-pendek. Past expeditions have concentrated on Gunung Tuju (the lake of seven peaks) in Kerinchi National Park. This time the better part of the expedition will be spent with the Kubu people in the lowland jungles. Back in 2004 Chris and I spent a day with these people and Nylam, their chief.

The Kubu are the original inhabitants of Sumatra. The modern Indonesians arrived relatively recently from Malaya. The Kubu are far taller and more slender than the average Sumatran. They have oriental features but the men have curly hair almost like Africans. Until recently the Kubu lived totally wild in the jungle. Now they have houses but still spend months on end in the deep rainforest. Nylam told us of his own encounter with an orang-pendek a few years back. He and his warriors had also seen ten-metre-long serpents that they described as having horns like an ox!

We will be working with the Kubu to search for orang-pendek and the horned serpents (the Kubu call them 'Nagas'). Apparently there have been a number of sightings of the short man in the area recently. We intend to make our HQ in the ‘garden’; a semi-cultivated area that abuts the true jungle. We hope to record some of their culture and folklore as next to nothing has been written on Kubu beliefs.

Towards the end of the trip we will return to Gunung Tuju where the creature has also been seen recently.

They say three's the charm and third time lucky so keep your fingers crossed!

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